We watched the rugby international together. England playing France in London. My dad and I. On the TV of course – it’s impossible to get tickets for events like this for love nor money.
My dad was feeling poorly. He has had a cold and was struggling to clear his chest and his throat. We also had the TV turned up loud which meant it was hard to hear ourselves speak.
But we sat there together. Me resplendent (my word) in my England rugby shirt. Him just resplendent. We watched and critiqued, praised and complained. Because we could.
I was the more animated. I was the one who leapt up at the key moments. I was the one who shouted and swore. I was the one who’s high five was left hanging. But we were there and we watched together.
There are slow times in rugby matches these days. TV reviews of big decisions, multiple substitutions throughout the second half. Lots of time to sit and think…ponder and wonder.
I inevitably found myself thinking of other moments we watched games together. Live games or televised games. Games we watched together or games where I played and he was there to support me. Different sports. Different outcomes. Similar experiences. Great moments and wonderful memories.
As I wondered I kept being myself back to the present. I was there with him. Watching together. Occasionally I helped him with his drink. Frequently he agreed (my word) with my insights on the game. More often we just watched.
It’s important and good to remember. It’s more important and better to be present. Whether with parents, family, friends or work colleagues. People need us today. Now. They need our help and support, our advice and encouragement. They need us to be present to achieve what we want to do and influence what we want to happen next.
There was no point me being there with my dad but just thinking about the past…or even just wondering what will happen next…I was there to spend time with him. To savour those precious moments together…doing something special with someone so very special.
Let’s just say that the outcome of the game was more important than the content. One aspect of professional sports that amazes me is how good they are at being present. No matter whether they score the best goal or miss the easiest shot…they clear their mind and simply focus on what is in front of them next.
No carry over and no regrets. Only refocus and re-engagement. It’s how they are trained…as well as being part of their nature. But it is all about being present, addressing what is in front of you…and making the right decision.
This approach applies to teams and individuals – our next action, or the next action in a comparable situation – is what matters most. To us, to our team and to everyone who is supporting us or depending on us.
Not many of us are remotely good enough to play sport at a high level – I most certainly wasn’t anywhere close. But this learning and approach still applies. This I know to be true.
I know this because it’s one of life’s lessons I learned from someone very special. Lessons I try to apply whenever I can…learnings and memories I have and will own forever.
I learned – and am fortunate enough to still be learning- a great deal else from my father – about life and love and family…and work. I learned what it takes to be a father. I was shown what it takes to be someone’s dad.